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Brother Kenneth "Coach" Carter honored

for 48 years of service to city

Few figures of Maretta City Schools have been as beloved as Kenneth Carter, and the longtime coach and teacher was treated as such Sunday night when he was honored by family and dignitariesin a celebration of his retirement following a 48-year education career in the city.

Over the span of 48 years, Kenneth "Coach" Carter devoted his life to teaching and coaching the young men and women that have gone through the halls of Marietta City Schools.

Now, as he heads into retirement, Carter was honored Sunday at the Turner Chapel AME Church for his service to the community as a coach and as an educator at Lemon Street and Wright Street schools, Marietta Middle School, Park Street Elementary and Lockheed Elementary School.

Marietta Mayor Steven Tumlin presented Carter with a proclamation deeming May 23 as Coach Kenneth Carter Day in the city.

"I just think what most people don't realize is that you're taking a man who started around 1962, and was probably educated and taught in a segregated system," Tumlin said. "Then, it went to integrated schools, and all of those experiences are something that very few people have. He saw history. I think that's important, and it's going to be sad to lose him."

As a native son of Marietta, Carter graduated from Lemon Street High School in 1952, a time when the city's schools were still segregated. After graudating from Lemon Street, he earned a
bachelor's degree in health and physical education at Lincoln (Mo.) University before earning a master's degree at the University of Indiana.

Carter followed that with further studies in physical education at Jacksonville State University, University of Georgia and Atlanta University.

Following his education, Carter went back to his old stomping grounds, the Atlanta YMCA, for his first job. After all the times he took the bus back and former from Marietta to the Y, he returned there to return the favor for the years he grew up learning how to box and, more importantly, maturing into the coach and teacher that he is today.

"I had good training myself, and made it a part of my responsibility to take these kids out of the community and train them to become a good person," Carter said. "I wasn't just a good athlete, but a good person. Behavior is the No. 1 problem that comes up in public schools today. How they act from home, you have to learn to blend the home with the school, and with the community. If you can blend it in with the parents, then you have a pretty good kid."

After his time at the Atlanta YMCA, Carter began his teaching career in 1962. During his tenure in the Marietta City Schools system, he coached track, basketball, football and tennis for 19 years, and also served as intramurals director at Marietta Middle School.

While coaching tennis at Marietta High School, Carter's teams had 16 winning seasons, six region championships and one state title. Under his tutelage, several of the area's top tennis players went on to play in college and beyond.

During his adulthood, Carter met with many luminaries of the Civil Rights movement, including athletic heroes Hank Aaron and Muhammad Ali, and it was at the Atlanta YMCA where Carter was introduced to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

King would go to the Atlanta YMCA every Wednesday to swim, and Carter would be there to listen to the Civil Rights icon talk about everything, from the Selma-to-Montgomery marches, to church sermons.

"Just working with him would give me inspiration," Carter said. "I was able to grow from assimilation. In those days, (former Atlanta mayor) Andrew Young would come up two or three days a week. That was a good experience, too."

From his time spent with King and his liaisons, Carter was able to take away from that

Carter taught at his alma mater, Lemon Street, as well as Wright Street Elementary, the Performance Learning Center at Woods-Wilkins, Marietta Middle School, Park Street Elementary School and retired from Lockheed Elementary. On top of serving as the intramurals director, he also served as the system-wide physical education coordinator from 1974-91.

While Carter was able to accomplish much during his career, nothing was more important to him than his chance to teach children.

"Teaching was my most rewarding area because I was able to see progress and positive results," Carter said. "I was able to help a child to make a change in (their) life."

While with the school district, Carter served as a mentor to two of the city's most notable athletic exports.

Dale Ellis, after his time under Carter's watch, went on to a long career as one of the most prolific 3-point shooters in NBA history.

Carter also helped mold one of the school system's most beloved figures, James "Friday" Richards, into a star football player who earned a scholarship to play at the University of Florida before earning a brief flirtation with the NFL. Richards, however, was known for his long tenure as a football coach at Marietta High School before he retired following the 2009 season.

Along with Carter's time teaching young people, his wife also carried a similar career path. Kenneth Carter met his wife, Jeanie, in Cartersville, she was a math teacher.

Jeannie Carter went on to a long career with Marietta City Schools and served as a board member for 16 years before retiring in December at the conclusion of her fourth term.

"When I look at he and his wife Jeanie, it's close to 100 years they gave to the Marietta school system," Tumlin said. "I can't think of a better team than those two. He's the type of teacher or coach that you wanted your children around."


By by William Bretherton
Courtesy of The Marietta Daily Journal




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